Part of a personal project while on tour last week in New York. Has singing in a chorus ever connected you to someone that doesn’t speak your language?
Young Women’s Chorus charter member and graduating senior Katrina. Photo taken on Ellis Island.
“When I first joined the Young Women’s Chorus, my nickname was Eeyore, the expressionless to the point of depression character from the Winnie the Pooh series. I was quite serious about singing, but I only really focused on singing the correct notes and rhythms. After my first voice masterclass, another chorister immediately said, “You’re just like Eeyore! This song is about happiness and love but you look so sad!” Before hearing this critique, I didn’t really understand the purpose of having expression. I saw music in a very straightforward and technical way, analyzing chord progressions and dynamics by the book. However, over time, YWC truly opened the door and showed me how universally powerful music is.
I first experienced this on our first tour to Italy. We were rehearsing in this gorgeous church in Venice, when we noticed people peeping through the gate at the entrance of the church. We only started with some simple warm-ups and yet people were flocking, trying to get a better look. Some even waited until we were done rehearsing to meet us outside. Despite the language barrier, both tourists and locals expressed their gratitude for our singing. It dawned on me that people didn’t need to know the music we were singing to enjoy our chorus. People didn’t need to speak the same language in order to feel connected through this celestial experience. Whether it was in San Francisco, Venice, Berlin, Vancouver, or Budapest, our singing connected people from all around the world, and that to me is an incredible and inimitable feeling.”